Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

MEarthPhys Geophysics

UCAS code: M7G6

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering

Introducing MEarthPhys Geophysics

Geophysics is the study of the Earth's internal structure and dynamics through the use of physics and mathematics.

You will learn the fundamental physical principles and mathematical techniques underpinning the subject, and their application to fields as diverse as oil and gas exploration, environmental monitoring and protection, and mitigation of natural hazards. You will gain an understanding of the inner workings of our planet. The programme includes two individual projects, a large final-year research project and an international field course.

Our geophysics programmes are unique in Scotland. The University has one of the largest groupings of geophysicists in Europe, offering unrivalled courses that cover practical applications of physics and mathematics in the geosciences.

Year 1

You will study a common first year introducing you to the foundations of physics, geophysics, mathematics and earth dynamics on which the rest of your programme will be based.

Year 2

You will take more advanced maths and physics courses, a further geology course and a specialist geophysics course. In addition, you will choose two option courses from a wide selection in the schools of Physics & Astronomy, GeoSciences or elsewhere.

Year 3

Your specialist geophysics courses will continue and you will also have the choice of option courses in Earth Sciences. You will take part in a residential geology trip to develop your observational and geological interpretive skills.

Year 4

You will continue your specialised studies with a focus on seismology and geomagnetism and will take part in a geophysics field course along with students from universities in France and Germany. You will complete independent geophysics project work for your honours dissertation. Option courses will be available from the School of GeoSciences and beyond.

Year 5

Half of your year will consist of work on an independent research project. You will also complete high-level compulsory and option courses from the School of GeoSciences, including scientific computing skills.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

We publish the latest available information for this programme. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year.

Programme structure (2017/18)

Our facilities

In your first year, many of your lectures will be taught in the Central Area close to the city centre. Practicals and other teaching take place within the School of GeoSciences, located at the University's King's Buildings campus. You can access the University's libraries and IT facilities, and the School's laboratories provide personal workspace with computing and microscope facilities during your honours years.

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials, group work, practicals and fieldwork, self-directed learning and project work. In your honours years, you will devote more time to self-directed study and will receive individual supervision for final-year project work.

You will have access to the University's specialist research facilities and laboratories for analysing rocks, minerals and fluids and measuring the physical properties of rocks.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment will be both formative and summative, with a combination of practical work, essays, oral and written examinations, independent project work, field reports and notebooks, depending on the course.

On MEarthPhys programmes you will also be assessed on computer programming exercises, and in the final year of all our programmes there are elements of assessed presentation and scientific writing skills. Most senior honours courses and projects will also involve modelling elements.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

We publish the latest available information for this programme. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year.

Programme details (2017/18)

Our graduates have successfully entered challenging and rewarding areas of Geophysics including oil and mineral prospecting, hydrology, industrial management and administration. You will be able to consider careers as a geophysicist in the oil, mining or nuclear industries or apply your skills to other disciplines such as engineering, finance, business, consultancy or a variety of governmental or civil service positions. The numerical and analytical skills you will gain, including the ability to interpret complex systems, are prized by potential employers. Alternatively you may go on to study for a research degree.

Typical offer

The typical offer is likely to be:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 555 at HL.

Minimum entry requirements

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or ABBBB/AABB from S4-S6, with a minimum of BBB achieved in one year of S4-S6, to include Mathematics at Grade A and Physics.
  • A Levels: ABB required in one sitting, to include Mathematics at Grade A and Physics.
  • IB: 32 points overall and award of IB Diploma with 555 at HL to include Mathematics and Physics.

Find out more about entry requirements

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

For direct entry to second year the minimum requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA to include Mathematics and Physics, and one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geology or Geography.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one sitting to include Mathematics at A* and Physics, and one of Chemistry, Geology, Biology or Geography.
  • IB: 38 points overall and award of IB Diploma with 666 at HL to include Mathematics and Physics, plus one of Biology, Chemistry, Geography or Geology.
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

You must provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL iBT 92 or above with 20 in each section
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): Total 61 with at least 51 in each ""Communicative Skills"" section
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

About English language requirements


For SQA and GCSE students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 Grade C
  • SQA Standard Grade 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 Grade A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 Grade C
  • GCSE Grade C or 4
  • IB Standard Level Grade 5

Key Information Sets (KIS) are part of a government initiative to enhance the information that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

KIS are available for most undergraduate programmes and are intended to make it easier for you to find information about the programmes you are interested in studying. It is one of many sources of information available that will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

You can also use this website to find more information on our programmes and the learning environment you will experience at the University of Edinburgh.

Please note that some programmes do not have data available and will not display a KIS.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MEarthPhys Geophysics

Additional Costs

You will incur costs on compulsory field trips. In 2016, these were around: Year 2 - £150, Year 3 - £130, and Year 4 - £200. In 2016 there were also optional field trip costs in Year 3 of £1,541 and/or £320.

Previous destinations include Lake District, Scotland, England or France/Germany, with the option to add Jamaica and Arran.

Find more information about field trip costs on the GeoSciences website.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering